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Cincinnati Minority Business Accelerator Gets $450,000 Kauffman Grant

The Cincinnati Minority Business Accelerator is getting a $450,000 grant to help entrepreneurs who have been systemically left behind.

The accelerator helps minority businesses develop and expand throughout the region. It was created in 2003 to address disparities in the Queen City's business community.

"To have an asset in the community that's recognized as a national best practice for minority business development certainly enhances the region's appeal overall," says the accelerator's director, Darrin Redus. He says they focus on Hispanic and African American entrepreneurs because of economic disparities.

The Kauffman Foundation awards grants to organizations that have "exceptional track records in removing barriers that make starting and growing a business more difficult."

The entrepreneurs the Cincinnati Minority Business Accelerator works with are 50% minorities and 40% women.

The money will be used to add more companies to their portfolio, grow the companies they have, support minorities acquiring non-minority businesses, and attract new companies to the area. Redus says these efforts will allow them to grow by a billion dollars and create an additional 3,500 jobs in the area, all by 2022.

The accelerator mainly works with entrepreneurs that have a business-to-business model so they can potentially be connected with larger companies like Procter & Gamble.

Robert Luft's company SureFire Innovations is based in Cincinnati. The company works with public and private organizations nationally to resolve their various technology needs, including technology infrastructure design. He says the accelerator helped him get funding that allowed him to secure a Fortune 500 company as a client. "I had some opportunities for a couple different projects that I just did not have the capital to support at that time," he says.

Redus says historic lack of access to investment capital is a challenge for minority business owners. "But if you overlay the lack of access to capital historically against capital intensive businesses like manufacturing, it's not a mystery - you don’t see a lot of minority-owned manufacturing companies today."

The grant will also help the accelerator create a playbook of how it runs for cities across the U.S. to copy.

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